Intro to The House of Night Series
The House of Night series from best-selling authors P.C Cast and Kristin Cast (mother and daughter) is a great read for anyone interested in sci-fi and fantasy. It’s a series that revolves around the world of vampires; however, it is different from other vampire novels such as Twilight and The Vampire Diaries.
In the House of Night series, vampires (spelled Vampyre in the books) exist, but unlike some novels, the whole world in the House of Night series is aware of the existence of Vampyres, and the way one can become a Vampyre is if they get marked by a tracker. The way one becomes a Vampyre in the series is determined when an individual is an adolescent, and he or she would have a junk DNA strand that can be triggered by their hormones.
When this happens, their junk DNA is sensed by Vampyre trackers and they get marked with an outline of a sapphire crescent moon in the middle of their forehead after the tracker says a phrase involving their destiny at the House of Night. Once marked, that adolescent will spend four years at a House of Night school (in the book there are many House of Night schools in major cities all around the world) as a Vampyre fledgling where they will mature into a full adult Vampyre, or their body will reject the change, and they die via bleeding out from coughing up blood and bleeding out from their nose, ears, and eyes.
If one survives the change, they will have the outline of the sapphire crescent moon on their forehead filled in and they will have a unique tattoo surrounding it. That tattoo that’s added after they complete the change is usually determined based on their personality or their special powers they develop (also known as affinities); for example, if one has an affinity for fire, their sapphire crescent will be surrounded by a tattoo of flames to represent that affinity.
The plot of Marked introduces Zoey Montgomery as the main character. She’s your average sixteen-year-old girl trying to fit in at school and deals with a dysfunctional home life. After the end of a day at her local high school in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, she gets Marked by a Vampyre tracker, causing her to have no other choice but to go to the House of Night school in Tulsa. Before she does that, however, she has to face her mother and hypocritical stepfather (who she calls Steploser).
Although her mom – who she considers being like a Stepford wife after marrying her husband John – and stepfather try to keep her in her room and blame her for getting Marked as a result of being a problem child, she sneaks out of the house and goes to see her grandmother, Sylvia Redbird, at her farm for help. It is there that she meets Nyx, the Vampyre Goddess via out of body experience after falling off a small cliff on her grandmother’s farm.
Zoey’s meeting with Nyx is a key point not only throughout the book but throughout every book in the House of Night series. When Zoey first meets Nyx, she advises Zoey that she will be her “eyes and ears in a world where good and evil are struggling to find balance,” as stated on page 40. After Nyx tells Zoey this, she begins to doubt herself, yet Nyx assures her how she has faith in Zoey and also reminds her that “darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good.”
After Zoey’s meeting with Nyx, she wakes up in an infirmary at the House of Night in Tulsa with her grandmother by her side, who also informs her that her sapphire crescent tattoo in the middle of her forehead is filled in and not an outline, which is unheard of for a Vampyre fledgling since only adult Vampyres have a filled-in crescent with additional tattoos surrounding it. And this is also when Zoey meets Neferet, the Vampyre High Priestess of the Tulsa House of Night, who also claims that Zoey’s unique mark is a good omen for her to mature and change into an adult Vampyre.
When Zoey begins a new life as a Vampyre fledgling, she tries to find a way to fit in at a Vampyre school that has some similarities but a lot of differences to regular high school. Her encounter with Nyx that left her with a filled-in sapphire crescent in the middle of her forehead has made her an anomaly in the Vampyre world. However, there are some upsides to Zoey’s new life. When an adolescent becomes marked by a Vampyre Tracker, they are automatically emancipated and with that benefit comes the choice to change their name if they wish to do so. Zoey, of course, immediately changes her last name, Montgomery, to her grandmother’s last name, Redbird.
As Zoey becomes settled in with her new life, she also discovers that she has an affinity (a.k.a special powers) for all five of the elements: air, fire, water earth, and spirit. And no other Vampyre before her has ever been gifted an affinity with all five of the elements; thus making Zoey special among Vampyres and fledglings alike. She also becomes best friends with her new roommate, Stevie Rae Johnson, and also becomes friends with Stevie Rae’s group: Damien, Shaunee, and Erin.
Zoey also meets a fledgling named Aphrodite, who is known as the popular girl at the Tulsa House of Night and is the leader of an elite club called The Dark Daughters and Sons. Her position as leader of this elite club makes her a High Priestess in training because she has an affinity to see tragic events before they occur, and when Zoey discovers that Aphrodite is misusing her Goddess-given affinity by keeping her visions to herself, Zoey does whatever it takes to expose the misuse of Aphrodite’s gift.
I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but I will say that Aphrodite is misunderstood. She is an enemy in the first book, but she eventually becomes a devoted and trusted ally and a good friend to Zoey throughout the series. (Hint: Remember what Nyx tells Zoey about darkness does not always equate to evil just as light does not always bring good.)
Perspective on Marked
Overall, this is a great book to read. For those of you who like young adult fiction with some sci-fi and fantasy mixed in with some romance, then I highly recommend reading this book and the ones that follow.
Zoey Redbird is your average young adult teenager trying to live an easy normal life, even when living her life as an anomaly for a Vampyre fledgling becomes her new normal. That new normal consists of going to school at night rather than during the day since daylight can be painful to fledglings and Vampyres. The House of Night schools are very different from regular schools and not just because of the time they attend classes. The classes themselves are also intriguing, ranging from Equestrian Studies, Vampyre Sociology, Fencing, and even Karate. In other words, not something you would see in a normal high-school with human students.
Zoey also experiences bloodlust and inadvertently drinks blood from her human ex-boyfriend. She also gets the attention of Erik Night, a popular Vampyre fledgling with a love for acting and the ex-boyfriend to Aphrodite, Zoey’s nemesis in this book All of this culminates in a struggle with adapting to a new life where Zoey will either make the change into an adult Vampyre, or she will die as a result of her body rejecting the change.
Another interesting fact about this series is how Vampyres are portrayed. In other novels, such as Twilight and Vampire Academy, vampires live among people but their existence as to what they really are is kept hidden; whereas, in the House of Night series, the whole world is well-aware of the existence of Vampyres. Also, Vampyres are closely associated with cats, and a Vampyre and a Vampyre fledgling would have a cat that would be considered his/her familiar. And in the House of Night series, Vampyres and/or fledglings don’t choose their cats, their cats choose them as their own.
Vampyres in the House of Night series are depicted as having professions in the arts in some way. For instance, Vampyres can have professions as famous movie stars, musicians, writers, artists, etc., and there are famous names we know of in real-life that are depicted as Vampyres in the House of Night series. Another interesting fact is that Vampyres of the House of Night series do not have fangs and they don’t burst into flames if they have contact with sunlight, but it is considered very uncomfortable and painful if they do.
Further Analysis on Marked and The House of Night Series
Needless to say, the House of Night series is unconventional compared to previous publications and how they have depicted vampires in their work. But like many young adult fiction novels that become a well-liked series, each one has the main protagonist undergo a challenge or mission in some way. In Marked, Zoey is learning about Vampyre-life and culture, as she navigates her new life so she can find a way to adapt and live in this new world she unexpectedly became a part of.
On top of having a unique mark and facing some unwanted attention (especially from Aphrodite), Zoey has seen one student reject the change and die after another student died from the same thing the day before. But the thing about that is Zoey starts to see what she thinks is their ghosts walking around the outside wall of the House of Night campus; yet, their outline of a crescent moon on their foreheads are not sapphire but blood-red. They are also feral and growl as they show their fangs, looking like the stereotype vampires have always had in various works in literature and other forms of media.
This sighting of the 2 deceased fledglings suggests that the way they are after their deaths was not meant to happen, meaning the way of life in the Vampyre world has an order of how things happen after an adolescent rejects the change, there’s no way to survive from it, let alone coming back from the dead. And since Zoey witnesses these sightings, she begins to wonder how it is possible and what is causing these deceased fledglings to walk around in their feral state with glowing red eyes and fangs. However, we don’t figure that out until the next book in the House of Night series: Betrayed.
To Be Continued
So here you have it on Marked: book 1 in the House of Night series. A young adult novel with some science-fiction filled with adventure and excitement mixed in with some fantasy and a little bit of romance. It’s a great read to those of you who like this genre and if you want to escape from reality for a little bit to be entertained with a good book to read, then I suggest reading the House of Night series, and it is very intriguing and entertaining.
Furthermore, if you enjoy reading Marked, then you should also check out the next book after this one in The House of Night series called Betrayed. The second book in the series is just as entertaining as Marked and it’s filled with just as much excitement and adventure as well, and that’s all I’m going to say because I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who have not read it.
However, I will also be discussing Betrayed in more detail in another blog post so stay tuned for a review of Betrayed: Book #2 in the House of Night series.